Fit Consumers Are Smarter Consumers With Fat Wallets

Turns out Ben Franklin really had something there with that "healthy, wealthy, wise" stuff.

Exceptionally fit people have exceptionally high household incomes, and are also exceptionally savvy about spending all that dough, according to a new study profiling these health-conscious types.

Fit consumers--defined as those who exercise at least three times per week and also participate in at least one sport "every chance they get"--are 50 million strong, and wield an "astronomical" aggregate household income of $2.2 trillion, reports Packaged Facts, a division of

And they're not going to stop till they reach $3 trillion in 2011 (if then).

These consumers are adventurous, love to reward themselves with cars, trips and personal services, and "will go to any lengths to preserve what they see as an ideal lifestyle," notes PF publisher Tatjana Meerman. "But they are also very savvy about what they indulge in," she adds--meaning that they are careful about how they spend all that dough accumulated as a result of their "workaholic tendencies."



For one thing, they are more informed about their finances and investments, and significantly more inclined than couch potatoes to take responsibility for their financial security in retirement.

They shop and bargain-hunt a lot. They are more aware of brands than other consumers (more likely to notice them in movies and TV shows), and more likely to stick with their favorite brands and shop in specialty stores because these carry a wider selection of brands, including the "best" brands. (Yet, 66% said they'd shopped in Wal-Mart within the last 12 months, 47% in Target, 34% in JC Penney, 26% in Sears, 25% in Kmart and 23% in Kohl's--and club stores, Old Navy and Dollar General also had double-digit percentages.)

They are more likely to keep up with the latest fashion trends, yet more inclined to say they have conservative dressing styles, stick with classics, and value function and comfort in choosing clothing. All in all, they buy more clothes of all kinds--including suits and blazers but also, of course, athletic shoes, workout clothes, sunglasses and other active wear.

They do more shopping online than other consumers (books, music, apparel and travel tickets are their biggest categories), and are more likely to make online purchases totaling $500 or more. They also buy more frequently from catalogs, and by mail-order and phone.

Still, the fits are more likely to say that they value time over money.

As one might guess, they use more personal products and sunscreen, make healthy eating a cornerstone of their lifestyles, and take a lot of vitamins.

Interestingly, fit consumers also drive more, and are more inclined to view their cars as tied to their self-image and being important to supporting their active lifestyles. And they're more concerned about having safety features in their cars, perhaps, as PF notes, "because they drive faster than other people." (A flaw, at last!)

Fit consumers also have a positive view of life (they're more likely to say they're happy with their lives just as they are, for instance) and tend to be spiritually oriented. They retain their taste for adventure and risk-taking as they age, and are even more focused on maintaining a youthful appearance and being attractive to the opposite sex than the rest of America.

They're also more interested in other cultures, international events and the arts than the average bear. They're better educated, more tech-savvy and more likely to be professionals and managers.

They're more likely to believe that they try to be nice to people as much as they can, and to say that it's important to feel respected by peer, and have a circle of close friends and lasting relationships. More say they enjoy spending time with their families. And, yes, they are also more concerned about the environment.

Naturally, they exercise more. Fit consumers under 30 are heavily into action, snow and team sports. Men dominate shooting, fishing, golf and team sports, while women dominate aerobics, jogging, water sports and other fitness-oriented activities.

But wait ... Those of you now fighting an urge to run to the vending machine to relieve their feelings of inferiority, take note: Fit consumers are only slightly less likely than other people to report having had an ailment of any kind in the past month. And although fewer of them have actually had hypertension and high blood pressure, their most common complaints are the same as everyone else's: the two just-mentioned conditions, plus backaches.

However (you knew this was coming), they are significantly less likely to be at least 30 pounds overweight.

Finally, fits are 99.9% more likely than others to keep their New Year's resolutions.

Importantly, fits are ambivalent about advertising. More than other consumers, they say they dislike advertising and view it as a waste of their time, and claim that they don't base buying decisions on it. Yet, they're more likely to remember advertised products when they're shopping and to value the informational function of ads.

Looking at media habits, fits' greater use of the Internet for information and entertainment has caused them to show greater declines in reading print news and magazines and watching TV. They buy more flat-screen TVs, but relatively few consider TV to be their main source of entertainment, or consider themselves TV "addicts." (ESPN is the favorite channel of the men, Lifetime the favorite of women.)

However, fits are still more likely than non-fits to be regular newspaper readers and more likely to rely on magazines to keep them informed. And they are more inclined to listen to radio on a daily basis and use it for quick news updates.

Also of note: Not all fits are equal. PF identifies two fit subgroups.

"Extreme fit consumers" are those who "agree a lot" with the statement, "I exercise regularly." But believe it or not, they also seem to exhibit most of the attributes above to an even greater degree than mere fits. (Sort of like a fit consumer "on steroids," though steroids were most definitely not among the lifestyle habits cited in the research.)

"Wannabe fit consumers" do exercise at least three times a week and participate in a sport as often as possible, but do not express strong agreement with the "I exercise regularly" statement.

Clearly, they are paying for falling short on the iron man mentality: Their mean household income is just $82,000, versus $97,000 for extremes (and $87,000 for fits overall).

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